The final Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trailer name-checked Grindelwald. An earlier trailer mentioned Dumbledore. Can we expect to see them in the movie?
J.K. Rowling’s new Wizarding World story, Fantastic Beasts, is set in 1920s New York. It follows Newt Scamander, author of a Hogwarts textbook, whose closest link to Harry Potter’s story is — we presume — that his grandson Rolf marries Luna Lovegood.
But the trailers for Fantastic Beasts have dropped several hints that Newt and Harry’s stories are more closely linked than we thought.
While an early teaser thrilled fans by mentioning Albus Dumbledore — who opposed Newt’s expulsion from Hogwarts — the trailer released Wednesday morning went one step further: It directly connected the movie’s antagonist, Percival Graves (played by Colin Farrell), to a pivotal character in the Harry Potter series’ history.
In the trailer, Graves reveals that he wants to break down the barriers between the magical and Muggle (or No-Maj) worlds, just like Gellert Grindelwald is concurrently trying to do in Europe. It is the President of Magic, Seraphina Picquery, who suggests the two events might be connected, and warns that they could be facing a war.
So now we have several clues as to a potential Fantastic Beasts trilogy plot twist: Newt Scamander, in an effort to defeat Graves, will call on his former Hogwarts professor for help, and the two will team up to defeat Graves.
Dumbledore is, after all, publicly opposing Grindelwald at this point in his life, and while Grindelwald is gaining ground in Europe, there’s no reason Dumbledore couldn’t go abroad to stop a copy-cat uprising happening elsewhere.
(And let’s not forget that Dumbledore’s full name is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, and that his father’s name was also Percival. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence though… but hey, you never know.)
Who is Gellert Grindelwald?
Grindelwald, who is considered the second-most dangerous Dark Wizard in history after Voldemort, was born in 1884 and attended Durmstrang Academy.
Over the first half of the 20th century he led a revolution in Europe to take control of the Muggle world, before finally being defeated by Albus Dumbledore in 1945.
Grindelwald believed magical people to be superior to Muggles, and after winning the Elder Wand from the wandmaker Gregorovich, he used his newfound power to establish a power at Nurmengard, from which he and his followers operated.
Before his rise to power, Grindelwald formed a close relationship to a young Albus Dumbledore, who fell in love with him and almost followed him on his quest to obtain the Deathly Hallows and become the Master of Death.
A three-way duel with Albus’ brother Aberforth led to the death of Ariana Dumbledore, Albus and Aberforth’s sister, and this severed the family’s tie to Grindelwald for good. Although Dumbledore now opposed Grindelwald, he was afraid to confront him, because he didn’t want to know whose curse really killed his sister.
But in 1945, they finally met for their infamous duel, in which Grindelwald was defeated and Dumbledore won the allegiance of the Elder Wand.
How Dumbledore could appear in ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes place in 1928, and is the first in a planned trilogy. Since Grindelwald didn’t reach the height of his power until 1945, it is not unlikely that the movie is in fact going to track Grindelwald’s story from afar.
Although Fantastic Beasts takes place in America while Dumbledore is at Hogwarts and Grindelwald is somewhere in Europe, there are many ways we might see the two characters over the course of the trilogy.
Not only could Dumbledore go to New York to help defeat Graves; if Graves is not defeated in the first movie, he and Grindelwald might team up in the sequel.
This would lead Newt and Porpentina to get involved with the war in Europe. They could even be present for the final, legendary duel in which Dumbledore defeated his former friend, which would allow us to experience the moment as well. After all, there were “eyewitness accounts” to the duel that have never been identified.
Newt and Dumbledore already have a relationship by the time the story starts, and considering that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is clearly about more than just finding fantastic beasts — specifically about the threat of No-Majs learning about wizards — it would almost be strange if the story did not find a way to weave in Dumbledore’s backstory.
Dumbledore’s presence is an opportunity for LGBT representation
Not only would it be awesome to learn more about Dumbledore’s early years (which were all condensed into a chapter of Rita Skeeter’s book, which Harry read in Deathly Hallows), but if J.K. Rowling is indeed going to include the character in a significant way, it could mean the first ever in-canon acknowledgment of a character’s non-straight sexuality.
Even though Dumbledore is canonically gay, this fact was only revealed after the conclusion of the series. Not even Rita Skeeter explicitly stated the nature of his feelings for Grindelwald, which you’d think she of all people would dramatize for all it was worth.
When Cursed Child premiered in London, many Harry Potter fans expressed their disappointment that once again, there was no LGBT representation, despite an obvious opportunity.
Although it’d be nice to see more than just Dumbledore (surely the Wizarding World has more than one non-straight character?), it would be fantastic to finally see his sexuality acknowledged in the story itself. By the time Fantastic Beasts starts he is already teaching at Hogwarts, and has distanced himself from Grindelwald, and I know I personally like to believe that he did not stay celibate for the rest of his life because of his unfortunate first experience with unrequited love.
Actor Dan Fogler, who plays Jacob, already as good as confirmed that Dumbledore will appear at some point when he said, “As the stories go along, you will hear mention of your favorite characters. And you may meet their young counterparts along the way.”
(The only favorite Harry Potter character who’s around at this point in history is Dumbledore, so it’s kind of a no-brainer that this is the character Fogler is referring to… unless someone time-travels and transforms into an Augury.)
J.K. Rowling has called the movie “more preview-y than people realize,” while director David Yates has hinted that a Harry Potter character will have a “significant” role in the sequel.
I think it’s pretty safe to say we’ll see Dumbledore in this trilogy. The only questions are when he will appear, and how big of a role he will play.
Depending on how the situation with Graves escalates, could we see Newt Scamander reach out to Dumbledore for help, since Dumbledore is already involved with the revolution through his affiliation with Grindelwald? Dumbledore might even feel partly responsible for what is happening in New York, since Graves is directly inspired by the man (he thinks) he helped create.
This would bring Dumbledore to New York, either over the course of the film or towards the end (it’d be a perfect end-credits scene, just saying), setting him up for a bigger role in the sequel.